One of the most common questions I’m asked by fellow parents is “What age should I get my kid a cellphone?” In all honesty, I’m not the right person to provide this answer. You are. You know your child best and since there are many factors to consider when getting your child their first smartphone, it needs to be a topic that’s discussed as a family.
First ask why. My daughter first asked for a cellphone when she was 5. When I asked her why, she didn’t have a good answer. She simply shrugged her shoulders and said, “I don’t know. You and Daddy have them. I just thought I’d ask.” It opened the door for a conversation about the purpose of cellphones but without a compelling reason, she knew a cellphone would not be in her immediate future. Actually, she’s now 9 ½ and still doesn’t have one.
But as kids get older, there becomes more of a need. Parents and kids alike cite safety as a reason to have the devices and research shows kids are getting their phones at earlier ages than in previous years. In When to Buy Your Child a Cellphone, the New York Times referenced a statistic from the Pew Internet and American Life Project that stated 75 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds in the United States own a mobile phone. Only 45% in that age group owned cellphones in 2004.
If you’re thinking about getting a cellphone as your child heads back to school, consider these four factors:
- The age of your child
- What activities they are involved in where they will need to contact you
- How your child demonstrates responsibility
- The intended use for the phone. Will they be using it as a communication tool to call or text or will they have access to data plans to allow them to access social networks on their mobile device?
Any mobile device is a privilege and with that privilege comes responsibility and the very real possibility that because accidents happen, even the most responsible and careful child is likely to damage their phone. A back to school survey from Asurion shows that 32% of teens damaged their phone by dropping it in the last 18 months. 38% of young adults admitted to dropping their phone at least twice a week. Ouch.
On the parent side, Asurion found that 57% of parents reported their kids had lost or damaged a cellphone. 51% of parents replaced at least two phones for their kids in the last 18 months. A staggering 38% of parents had to replace at least one cellphone for their kids in the last 18 months. Double ouch!
Since it’s not a question of if, but when your child’s phone will be damaged, Asurion offers the following tips to keep cellphones safe throughout the school year:
- Use a good screen protector and invest in a good cover or case; it’s an easy and inexpensive way to prevent scratching, cracks and other external damage.
- Plug the phone charger into a power surge protector.
- Password-protect your phone; in the event it is lost or stolen, it will be your first line of defense against identity theft.
- Install an anti-theft application on your child’s device to locate or lock it and wipe data.
- Back up your child’s phone regularly to recover pictures, music and contacts quickly.
“Throughout the school year, parents and their children stay connected through their mobile phones,” said Bettie Colombo, spokesperson for Asurion. “As kids stay busy and active at school and during their extracurricular activities, there is an increased risk that they will lose or damage their devices. Asurion provides peace of mind that if something happens to your child’s device, whether it’s lost, stolen or damaged, we’ll make sure you and your children are reconnected as soon as possible, while also saving families from the high retail cost of purchasing a phone.”
This is part of a sponsored post campaign with Asurion. All opinions are my own. Images courtesy of Asurion